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Homeless horse destinations: Sale Barn or Horse Rescue

Though horse slaughter for human consumption hasn't happened in the U.S. for several years, some horses sold in the Ozarks are taken to slaughter. Others are taken to horse rescues.

February 24, 2012|by Linda Russell | KY3 Reporter

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- KY3 News first reported Thursday that a Wyoming company has a proposed plan to open a horse slaughter and processing plant for human consumption near Mountain Grove.   

It's a proposal that's finding controversy.  Those who work with horses agree their value has gone down significantly in the last several years, and that horses are a luxury.  In a poor economy, many owners find they can no longer afford to care for their horses.  Some turn to places like sale barns, others to horse rescues.

Some in the Ozarks are outraged.  Others believe a horse slaughter and processing plant near Mountain Grove would be a good move.  "The best thing that ever happened to horse welfare was human  consumption of horse meat," says Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equine, LLC.

Wallis believes horse slaughter in the U.S. would cut down on the number of neglected and malnourished horses.

"I think it would be a very very hideous crime, a black eye on the Ozarks.  This is horse country.  We need to be known for the care and love of the horse," says Scott Litherland of Alder Hill Farm, a horse rescue in Polk County.

Alder Hill Farm is currently home to more than 90 horses, rescued from auctions or owners who could no longer afford the feed.  "Almost every one of these horses would have ended up in slaughter," says Litherland.

Though slaughter for human consumption hasn't happened in the U.S. in several years, that doesn't mean it's stopped.  "It's just like a cow sale or anything.  They just come from everywhere; the buyers do.  We have horses that go back to the farm, to ranches, and we also have pound horses, that go to the slaughter market," says Dwight Glossip, manager of the monthly horse sale at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center.

The horses at Springfield Livestock Marketing Center will be sold late this Friday evening at the monthly horse sale.  Glossip says of the estimated 130 sold at each sale, 45 or 50 are taken to slaughter in Canada or Mexico. 

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"It would be easier on the livestock you know, to not have to be transported eight or nine-hundred miles," Glossip says.

But Glossip has mixed feelings about Missouri having the first slaughter plant in the country.  "I'd like to see a kill market get in, but I also like riding horses, you know, to go back to the farm and get a chance to be rebroke and retrained and everything," Glossip says.

"Rescues are overwhelmed right now.  That's just a fact," says Litherland.  With more financial support, he says places like Alder Hill Farm could save more horses from becoming meat he believes Americans don't want to eat.  "We can't stop it.  We can try to slow it down," Litherland says.

Mountain Grove attorney Cynthia MacPherson, representing the Community Preservation Project is planning to present information about the possible negative impacts of the proposed equine plant to both the communities of Mountain Grove and Cabool.  See documents outlining the group's presentation attached to this story.

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